Albanese vows respect, energy in Pacific

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says he is bringing fresh energy to Pacific talks after landing in Fiji for a key meeting of regional leaders.

Mr Albanese touched down in Suva on Wednesday for the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders summit, holding bilateral meetings ahead of Thursday's leaders retreat.

The prime minister attempted to draw a contrast to his predecessor Scott Morrison's approach in the Pacific, pointedly saying Australian support "does not come with strings attached".

"We understand that we have a responsibility as an advanced economy in the region to provide support to our Pacific island neighbours and indeed that is in Australia's interest," he said.

Mr Albanese added that he brought "positive energy" to the forum.

"I've spoken about treating countries with respect. What that means is not just talking but listening," he said.

"We have, as human beings, two ears and one mouth for a reason - because we should use the ears twice as much as we use our mouth. If you do that, you'll learn from each other."

Australian government officials believe their new climate policies have been seen as "refreshing" in the Pacific after the Morrison government's unwillingness to listen to other nations' concerns.

However, activists note Australia's carbon emissions targets still fall short of Paris Agreement goals to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees.

In the afternoon, Mr Albanese held bilateral meetings with leaders from Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.

With Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, he launched a $83 million joint defence facility in Lami, near Suva.

The Maritime Essential Services Centre will house Fiji navy headquarters, bolster naval capabilities and natural disaster response.

Mr Albanese met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare after a period of strained relations between the two countries over the Pacific nation's security tie-up with Beijing.

He told Mr Sogavare there was more Australia and the Solomon Islands could do to develop "relationships of trust and mutual understanding" of joint benefit.

In response, the Solomon Islands leader said there was a friendship between the countries that continued to grow stronger.

"We are family; there are maybe issues, and that makes families stronger," Mr Sogavare said.

At the height of the diplomatic spat, Mr Sogavare said relations with Australia had "soured" - but Mr Albanese earlier said the meeting would be cordial.

"I'll be honest with them. I'll develop a relationship of trust with them, and that means not necessarily agreeing with them the whole time but being able to have an open dialogue," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, US Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the forum via a videolink, announcing new embassies in Kiribati and Tonga, a renegotiated South Pacific Tuna Treaty worth $US600 million to the region and a new US Pacific strategy.

The address was a rare honour given to a greater power, afforded to the US by Fiji as chair, and supported by Australia.

The red-carpet treatment for the US contrasts with China, which was shut out of the summit.

On Thursday, leaders will spend the whole day in a "retreat", with forum unity, climate change and regional security high on the agenda.

Four members won't be there, including Kiribati, which withdrew from the forum with complaints of a lack of power-sharing with Micronesian nations.

Other member states to miss the summit include Nauru, absent due to a COVID-19 outbreak, Cook Islands, which is holding local elections within weeks, and Marshall Islands, due to legal issues.

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